Showing posts from 2007

Home for the Holidays

Ah, home. I had my flight schedule wrong in my head and so I ended up a) not having as much time to go out Friday night as anticipated, and b) having to get to the airport earlier than expected on Saturday since they wouldn't through-check my luggage, but I'm now safely in MSP. No guys immature guys with their asses in my face when they reached into the overhead, no recliner guys or scofflaws throwing air security rules to the wind, and a 21-year old kid on his way back from Chile mistook me for 25. Bless him. The lighting was poor. The only tragedy of the trip was that I mistakenly bought a toilet book at Heathrow. I got suckered into one of those 2 for 20 deals at the Borders right as they called my flight, and I grabbed what I thought was a non-fiction history book with a sense of humour, but which ended up being written in one to two-page vignettes, obviously meant for crap-taking. Even though I am sure that the air of the toilet has never befouled its pages, just know

Christmas memories, vol 19

My mom is not much of a cookie baker. There are many things she does well, but her cookies are so-so. Actually, I'm not sure it's so much that her cookies aren't great as when we were kids she didn't bake them that much. My Grandma B did. Grandma B was a precision sort, so baking worked well for her. She wanted to do something to help my mom out at Christmas time, and somehow it evolved to a process whereby we would request cookies and she would bake them...when we went to her house to pick her up, there would be treats galore as well as luggage and Grandma. It was excellent. Christmas cookies weren't necessarily Christmas-specific ones. For example, one of my personal favourites was the scotheroo - these are known by many names, but they are basically that rice krispie /peanut butter/ karo syrup base with milk chocolate top thing - which is actually an acceptable treat year round. However, since we weren't really a cookie family, any occasion where cooki

CORRECTION - Christmas memories, vol 17

Actually, our dog, Pretzel, got the first present...usually a bit of hamburger in a snoopy dog dish.

Obsessive compulsive disorder

We made a little ExecMBA compilation CD, and my friend Mark submitted this song. I can't stop listening to it, and now I have a huge crush on the Rev. What a fox.

Christmas memories, vol 18

I grew up in a small, small town. It is a picturesque little place...if you have never been to a place that looks like small town storybook America come to life, then Decorah would be an excellent place to start. It has a downtown of cute turn of the century (19th-20th toc) architecture, with independently owned shops in every storefront. It looks exactly like a quaint little town should. But it was in the middle of nowhere and catered to a local audience, and when I was a kid they simply didn't have the wide selection available in the larger cities. We would therefore make shopping trips to malls in the tri-state area to get access to more choice. There were back to school shopping trips, and trips in the spring for lighter-weight wardrobe items, but the best ones were at Christmas time. My dad's family lives in Cedar Rapids, so we'd head there to visit and take in some shopping at the same time. The first day was always about Armstrongs in downtown. It was one of t

Great moments in my history

Our heroine dishes out some tough love to keep the family on task..."Focus, Grandma, FOCUS! These presents aren't going to open themselves!" I TOLD you I was a taskmaster with the present opening.

Warm spot

When we were in the salad days of college, my friends and I were a bit...oh, let's say rowdy. I was in a rebellious stage, and I found me a circle of friends who were equally ready to push boundaries and question authority and find adventure at every turn. This is particularly true of my girlfriends from Luther, who were quite the band of misfit toys. We were all pretty, smart women with wicked senses of humour, but that's pretty much where the similarity ended. But each of us had a level of eccentricity that set us apart from the crowd, and we found soul mates in each other...someone who wouldn't judge, who would laugh at our jokes, and who would help you sort out a mess in your life without asking how it happened in the first place. My friend M was one of the wackiest. She looked perfectly normal, even acted pretty normal, but then all of a sudden she'd hit you with a humdinger of a question about sex or love or body functions or a general gross-out topic, and wa

Christmas memories, vol 17

Obviously an action shot due to the slight blur from movement, nothing says "thanks for the present!" like a tackle kiss given to a reluctant brother afraid of girl germs. Christmas eve was always a bit of a bustle at my house. To this day, I believe that it is the longest day of the year. Endless. The morning would start with kolache baking , but while the bread baking lasted the whole day that was pretty much my dad's thing so we were not allowed to assist. If we hovered in the kitchen mom would sternly reprimand us for spoiling our appetites, so we'd be expected to go entertain ourselves in the afternoon. A cruel, cruel expectation, I tell you. Likely I read a book or played Barbies, but still...not enough to to take a kid's mind off of the impending present orgy. My mom hates wrapping gifts, but she likes shopping. And, especially since we were wrapping cans of stew for my Grandma B , there was a lot of wrapping to do. As a hated chore it got put off until

Great moments in my history

My t-shirt had a silk screen of the revolutionary war on the front. It was the bi-centennial, and boy howdy did I think I was hip. Oh. And that is not a little brother. It's an Olejniczak. And another thing. My 12 year old nephew looks exactly like my brother in this picture, and Bob is probably 11 here. Spooky.

Great moments in christmas memories

It had an elevator. Or lift, as we call them in Britain. Of course I was ecstatic. In fact wide-eyed with enthusiasm, as you will see if you enlarge the photo. This one's for my brother. Poor guy has been plagued his whole life by a geek freak sister, bless him. But at least I'm funny. And have exceptionally good taste in clothes.

My post-MBA life

Today is Sunday of weekend one of my post-MBA life. Two whole days with no obligations to a case study or reading or research for a paper. Ah, bliss. While last weekend was also post-classes, we still had a paper outstanding so I did have a little bit of pressure to work on things. I had one day of fun, though - I was hosted by the South African Tourism Board at Twickenham for South Africa vs. the Barbarians . It was a blast. I had an epic train journey from MK, as I had to connect in London to trains on limited service due to construction. I left at about 930 and got stuck on a Virgin train full of drunks from Birmingham. I never cease to be amazed by a) the utter horribleness of the Birmingham accent, and b) the ability of the British male to get completely blathered by 10AM. Any time you take a Virgin train on a weekend morning you are guaranteed to be sitting by loud-talking drunks who are at least four lagers in. It's ridiculous. This particular group had the sounds of s

Culture Gap

Sir Cliff Richard was knighted in 1995. Before Paul McCartney or Elton John. Huh. I suppose it was for Devil Woman ?

Christmas memories, vol. 16

I like to sing. I always like to sing. I'm not great at it, but I get immeasurable amounts of joy from it. And there is nothing better to sing at the top of your lungs than a Christmas carol, unless maybe it's Nanci Griffith after a few glasses of wine. I have no shame. Once December rolls around, I sing Christmas songs whenever I hear them, on the radio, on the sound system of a store, or even just in my head. Full voice. Doesn't matter where I am. Doesn't matter who is near me. It's Christmas, damn it, and it's time for singing. I always loved attending the midnight carol service at church, partly because you got to hold a candle in the dark, but mostly because you could sing really loud and harmonise any way you wanted and no one cared. It was delightful. If you've ever done a holiday season in a mall store, you know that sometime in November they send you a tape that has about four hours of music in a loop. This means that in an eight to ten hour shi


Don't you love it when you're minding your own business and they suddenly play Mexican Radio on whatever station you have tuned in? (Tonight I believe it's Virgin on the DAB.) And you know what other song I really like right now? That Bruce Springsteen one about the girls in their summer clothes. They play it on the radio a lot, and so far I'm not sick of it.

Christmas memories, vol. 15

My father was a civil engineer for Winneshiek County, and as such he was responsible for all road and bridge construction and maintenance of the county's road system. He had many miles of roads and bridges under his control, and he used numerous contractors to do the work required. My dad was an honest guy. As straight an arrow as they come, really. He would run a closed bid process, and he didn't engage in cronyism. And this isn't just the biased opinion of a of the most common things I heard about my father at his visitation and funeral (from many of these construction contractors, in fact) was that he had impeccable integrity and people trusted him to be fair. But if you've worked with contractors, you know that they like to send their thank you gifts at Christmas time...even if they know that it will have no effect on whether or not you will give them business in the future. And BOY do road construction contractors give gifts. Dad would turn

Soup Swap

Hi all. National Soup Swap is coming up....January 23rd is the official day! The organiser is a former housemate of mine and obviously a genius. (They've even made national press !) Get some friends together, start sifting through your cookbooks and get the soup a cookin ', baby! It's a brilliant idea. Perhaps some of you blogger folks can even use this for more meetups ! Here's a quick summary of how it works: 1) You and 6 - 14 other chefs decide to swap soup. 2) Everyone makes six quarts of soup and packages it in freezable disposable containers. Freezing it in advance is preferred. 3) On Swap night, you assemble at the host's home....nibbles, maybe a glass of wine, your call...but the event is about soup. Soups are placed on display for all soupers to survey. 4) Each souper draws a lot. 5) The crowd listens with baited breath as the other soupers tell the stories of their soups, giving others a chance to strategise . 6) Starting with lot 1 and proceeding in r

Christmas memories, vol. 14

I do not send Christmas cards. It is not because I don't love you, or because I don't wish you a happy is solely because I am too lazy to dedicate the hours to it, and too disorganised to have a complete list of your updated addresses ready to make it an easy task. My parents were religious senders of the Christmas card. They were of the modest note and picture of the kids variety. Sometime in November, Bob and I would be asked to dress in the year's themed clothing and we would spend an afternoon or an evening posing in various places to capture the perfect image to send out to the world. We HATED this. It seemed to take FOREVER. We would put on pained, plastic smiles...which would prolong our agony...and we could never get comfortable in any position because as soon as we did we would have to change the pose for a different shot. Here above is an example of why it took so long. When I go home, one of the highlights of my first few days is the review of t

Christmas memories, vol 13

My company in the states is a touchy feely kind of place. Not in the pervy sense...that goes against their mutual respect policy...but in a warm fuzzy happy family way. The founder is very Catholic, so company holidays revolve around Christmas and Easter, and there is much emphasis on good clean family living . For example, before Thanksgiving there used to be a bit of a prayer over the loud-speaker on Wednesday before we were sent off to "spend quality time with our families." We got the same speech on the last working day before Christmas Eve (a holiday) and the Thursday before Good Friday (also a holiday). The first few years I worked there all employees were given two things for Christmas. The first was a frozen turkey. These were never handed out until at least noon. I mean, they wouldn't want you having your turkey too soon in the day because it might be a distraction. (Though what exactly they thought we'd be doing with a frozen turkey beats me.) Each

Christmas memories, vol 12

It's that time of year! Time for you to listen to me tell you stories of the many delightful things that roam my mind at Christmas. We'll start you out slow, not with a poignant yet funny vignette, but with a general list of some things I love about the holiday season. How about 12 things, both because this is the twelfth installment in the series and because there's that one song about the french hens and milking maids (which I love to hate, though the Bob and Doug McKenzie version rocks.) 1. The smell of those holiday scented candles - not cheap ones from Walmart or even Target, but proper expensive Christmas scented candles from those Partylights people or Bibelot et al . 2. Christmas music. All of it. Heck, I'll even throw in the Dradle song. I love Christmas music almost as much as I love Christmas lights . 3. Finding the perfect parking space at Target on a busy Saturday. Talk about the holy grail. 4. Holiday sweaters. Mind you, I wouldn't wear one, n

Thin line between love and hate

MnMom has tagged me to list 10 things that make me want to smack someone in the head. 1. Skinny girls who talk about how fat they are and refuse to eat like a normal person. 2. Drunks who hit on me. 3. Adults who are such picky eaters that they can't just make do with what they're served. You're not five...just remove the damn tomato from your hamburger and move on. 4. People who pass me on the motorway and then once they're settled in front of me, they go just slow enough that I have to reduce my cruise speed or pass them. 5. Men who walk with their hands in their pockets, or who stand with their hands in their pockets and exhibit incredibly bad posture. In fact, I hate all bad posture full stop. 6. People who don't wash their hands after using the lavatory. That is seriously disgusting. 7. Sanctimonious parents who think that they know more than I do because they have kids. Ditto for people who think they know more because they're married. Come live my li

Mindy's List

I don't want to put these back in storage. They're in Minneapolis, and they're from Room & Board, and they're incredibly comfortable. They need a good home, either as a babysitter to take good care of them until I move back to the states, or for a reasonable price to just make them your own. Oh. and the sofa is filled with down, which means that if you're allergic to it you should leave it alone.

my day

Today was a sad day because my housemate had to put one of her dogs to sleep because it was full of cancer...wasn't diagnosed until this morning and it was too far gone for help. Very sad. I took off work early and drove her to the vet, and stayed with her while she was saying goodbye. We came home and I filled her with wine and made my mom's vegetable beef soup from last night's roast as a way for comfort food. I wish I could do more.

Executive MBA 2006-07 Director's Prize

This prize is awarded to the Executive MBA student who is judged by his or her peers to have contributed most to the overall success of the programme. Awarded to: Me I'm really happy about this - I've been the stream rep between the administration and my fellow students, which is the primary reason I've won this...I've managed a lot of situations and helped sort out problems, and while it's been a bit of work it's also been quite fun. I've got all sorts of thoughts and feelings, and in about an hour I'm calling my mom to hear about Thanksgiving with my brother and to tell her the news, but the over-riding reflection I have is this. My dad would be very, very proud. This would have made his day.

10 songs I never want to hear again

MichaelG has tagged me to list 10 songs I never, ever want to hear again. Child's play, I tell you. 1. You're Beautiful by James Blunt - you freaky stalky little weirdo. 2. Wildfire by Michael Martin Murphy- what a stupid song. So what if the girl and the horse die? I hate horses, and frankly, when I think back to teen girls with horsey love I hated them, too. I mean, how obvious is that? I say good riddance. I'd take Seasons in the Sun over this one. At least Terry Jacks is about humans. 3. Don't Cha (Wish Your Baby Was Hot Like Me) - Shut up you stupid Pussycat Dolls. 4. Light my Fire by the Doors - "liar" is not pronounced " li - yah ", and I don't really care for organ music 5. In the Name of Love by U2 - you've had once more, Bono . Give it a rest. 6. Centerfield - Fogerty , your whiney falsetto pisses me off 7. Boys of Summer - same to you, Henley 8. Anything Madonna has issued since Ray of Light - just stay at home and take car

Dirty little secret

I hate Neil Young. Seriously. Hate him. It's his voice, I think. It gives me a headache. But when I hear other people doing his music I realise that I'm not being fair. He's a talented one, that Neil.


Today I caught myself saying: - PROH-cess - SHHeh-dual - fortnight - Thursday next Crickey. I've been here for three years and it's finally starting to rub off on me. I even called someone "missus," not as in Mrs. followed by a surname...just "missus". Would girly-girl or miss-thang be better? I'm so confused.

Taking a break

I am 1000 words into our MSI report. I have a total responsibility for 4000 of it, which isn't so bad. Of course, I have to write the literature review and methodology sections which are dull as dirt, so you'll have to excuse me if I am having difficulty paying attention. The 1000 I have written are in that section, which means I'm halfway through and then things start to get more interesting. Hooray. It snowed last night. Like an inch. In true England style it was melted by the time I got up to go to work, but it never snows here in November so it feels like winter is upon us. Just to add a bit of festivity to my mood I've added some Christmas tunes to the iPod , so when Sleigh Ride starts playing or I hear Santa Baby I am reminded that I will be home in a month. This has been the shortest autumn on record. By next week you'll be getting Christmas memories and more pictures of me as a chubby kid. I mean, what are the holidays without eggnog lattes, mince pie

Guest blog - Mama Gin files

Dear Gentle Readers of Melinda June, Min has generously offered to host this week's episode of "The Mama Gin Files." I was unable to post it on the front page of Coaster Punchman's World for fear of retribution by Poor George, who forbade me from publishing the video. However, since the trials and tribulations of living with Mama Gin is my story too I feel altogether entitled --- at least as long as I don't get caught. Click here to experience Poor George trying to practice his bass clarinet in the face of Mama Gin's daily dose of harassment. Google Video has been acting really weird lately, so it may take several clicks on the "play" button before you actually get to see the video. (It might tell you it's "unavailable" a bunch of times - something Google is trying to iron out.) And if you aren't amused by crazy Chinese ladies harassing their gay sons, there are also some cute cats in the video. Maybe that will make up fo

Oh well

After your resounding advice, I consented to having a drink. He beamed. He told me I looked lovely, and he paid. I'm still just not that interested. Sadly, I'd like to be the sort who has a handsome younger man on my arm, but this is not the one. I find him dull. Dull is not sexy. Oh well.

Trophy boyfriend option

I'm 41. I'm a few weeks shy of having an MBA and a few months shy of a fancy new job. I'm smart, I'm arty, and I read a lot. And now I have a new admirer and he's 26 and he's handsome but not that bright and his major interests (aside from me) are the footie and beer (in quantity). I've always preferred my men smart, even geeky. They have wicked senses of humour and know lots of things about lots of things and they read books and see movies that don't necessarily have Bruce Willis or Mel Gibson in them and can occasionally play all seven tiles in a game of Scrabble. But those aren't the ones admiring me. Little British Jethro is. Those guys are married or seem to be looking for someone that's decidedly not me. LBJ blushes when he talks to me and thinks I'm fascinating. If I were a guy, I would mercilessly ridicule me. But I could do with a night out and a little attention. What's a girl to do?

I can has cheezburger

I spend a lot of time here while avoiding working on my papers. I usually laugh a lot, which is better than writing papers because that isn't fun at all right now.


Movies warn you about sex, language, adult situations and violence. None of these do me any good, as I don't really care if a movie contains these things. I do, however, think they should also offer a "D" rating that warns unsuspecting film goers that the movie contains poignant death scenes of characters losing loved ones to debilitating or long-term illnesses. I was watching a movie called Wah Wah last night, which was moving but good, and told the story of actor Richard E. Grant (best known to American audiences for vaguely villain-like roles in Masterpiece Theater episodes or Gosford Park. ) There's an abusive father, an adulterous mother, a wacky new wife who helps turn the father around, and a young boy trying to grow up in Swaziland about the time the British turned it back to its people. All good. And then the father starts dying of brain cancer, and they're all sitting by his bed as he withers away and tries to let them know that he loves them an

Lazy Sunday morning

Ah, Sunday. Not sure why it sounds like Hips Don't Lie is coming out of my iPod , but never mind. It's Sunday and I slept until 10 and made soft boiled eggs and soldiers for breakfast and have finished my second cup of coffee, so all is right with the world. Sorry I haven't been around much this week. It had nothing to do with my head bang and more to do with the fact that I was simply too busy and tired, and preferred surfing to writing when I was online. Work has exploded...we have something like 30 active proposals on my team of 3 full time and 3 part time people, and since our capacity at full staff is 20 and we have one person on holiday you can imagine my consternation. That, combined with my final three weeks of MBA work and trying to find my stuff amid my still packed boxes and a genuine desire to get some rest so any minor damage from my tumble could heal have made this a less than pleasant week. I had two big accomplishments this week. 1) I turned in my Glo

Checking in

Don't have time to write today, but in case you thought my silence was related to my injury I figured I'd better update you. Those of you who've joked about me having a thick skull were apparently much more correct than you knew. I'm just fine.


I'm not so coordinated in the morning. Today, I lost my footing on the steps and went careening headfirst into a wall. I was trying desperately to regain my balance, and had my head tipped back so I hit first with the bottom of my chin, scraping the underside of it and slamming my upper front tooth well into the flesh of my inner bottom lip. In a split second my forehead followed, smacking dead center into the wall with a little nose-slam follow-through to boot. I don't really have a headache but I look like a unicorn, eating or drinking is painful, and my right knee and my left shoulder sustained some sort of strain, as well. I can move around just fine, though, and while I'm sure I won't feel great tomorrow there is no nausea, forgetfulness or other symptom of concussion so I think I'll live. That said, I had serious trouble buttering my seemed like a minor depth perception thing. But I figure that since I just wrote a 1500 word paper maybe it was j

Old vs. new, or why being a housemate isn't all bad

Old Friday Night: Leave work at 7pm or so. Go to the grocery store for something to make for dinner, end up going home with some snack that you shouldn't have. Watch Eastenders. Make a cocktail. Make dinner. Eat. Half-heartedly work on a paper. I mean, you're busy and all, but it's Friday night. Mostly you surf the internet and watch Ugly Betty. Fall asleep watching Jonathan Ross and make catty remarks about Girls Aloud and how stupid Gordon Ramsey's boots are. Go upstairs and get into bed, but now you can't sleep, so you toss and turn and then drift off around 2. New Friday Night: Leave work by 6 because you have plans. Go pick up housemate, go to Ikea and walk around looking at things. Buy a chair and a throw and a few necessary household items you weren't planning on (this time some pretty little juice glasses.) Go to local Chinese restaurant for some delicious food and conversation. Go home to watch Ugly Betty. Unload car during commercials. After UB finish

Move completed

Hooray! House move is done except for foodstuffs (tomorrow at lunch or Friday after work) and cleaning up rubbish for the bin man on Monday AM, which I will do on Sunday morning. HOORAY!

Laugh out loud funny

My friend michaelg has been making me laugh now for well over 35 years. Today, he succeeded yet again with this . That poor girl. Bless.

Using what's in the fridge, vol. 8

I am moving next week, and though you wouldn't know it looking at my house, at least my fridge and pantry are getting down to nothing. I'm especially trying to get things out of the freezer because those things are just a hassle to move. With a little planning ahead, I've actually eaten quite well for the last week or so. Tonight, I did this (FYI, the plate is a side plate size...these are not mushrooms the size of a human head): Grilled portobellos with chorizo stuffing Find: 4 decent size portobello mushrooms Sundried tomatoes, which you rehydrate a yellow pepper two slices of bread some spring onions a clove of garlic olive oil a bit of chorizo , preferably the Spanish kind that is like a hard salami bologna ring, or thin slices of the salami kind will do in a pinch Boursin light cheese Preheat broiler Chop the garlic, spring onions, part of the yellow pepper, the chorizo (maybe a thumbs worth if you have a ring chorizo ) and the tomatoes into tinyish pieces. H


It's been four months since my father died. This has been a horrible couple of weeks. I've been really sad. I've been missing my father terribly. I cry for no reason. A lot. Hard. Sobbing, actually. But then I have to stop it and refocus, because I have gobs of things to do for school, as well as mountains of work sitting on my desk in the office. I want to be able to share the good things happening in my life with my dad and I can't. The emptiness is unbelievable. And if all of this normal grief stuff wasn't bad enough, this week I got pictures of the grave stone via email, which was finally put up earlier this month...and while it gives me closure it still leaves me feeling profoundly sad. People always tell you that when a loved one passes they don't really leave you, that you can feel them with you. I so badly want this to be the case, but I've just not felt that. I feel totally and completely alone. And I'm far from everything that reminds me

End Product - vegetable beef soup

It was delicious, and is the first time I didn't put garlic in something in a very long time.

Sunday Lunch

I find that on weekends where I'm stuck at my desk working on coursework I follow the path of least resistance and eat whatever's convenient, and unless I plan ahead it isn't healthy. I have a difficult week ahead, so I made sure I'd gone shopping and could cook ahead so I'd have something decent in the house to eat. My mother used to make the most delicious vegetable beef soup. (She still does, I just haven't had it in awhile so it's a childhood recipe for me.) She'd use left over roast beef, frozen mixed vegetables, broth and some tomato juice or something red. (I am going to get clarification from her later today.) It was a great meal in one bowl, and will keep really well in the fridge for a fast dinner with a salad when I get home from a long day at work and need to jump straight into an MBA project. (Bubs, you're a wise, wise man for thinking twice about taking on school at this ridiculous age.) The problem with this recipe is the requirem


Okay. I just got really creeped out. Here's how. Click on my profile, read the movies and books, and then click on the book called "Squares are not bad", which is a favourite from childhood. There are two people in the blogger universe who cite that book. And the other one is named Melinda, which is not exactly a common name. Now, click her profile and read her movies and books. Someone is playing a joke on me. I think it's Martha Dumptruck.

What separates me from the pack

I've just quoted Spider-Man in my Leadership Skills essay.


I wish swingers would tell you up front about their interests instead of befriending you first. I mean, this seems like something you should disclose.

Leading by example

It is cold here. There is a skim of ice on the pond across the street. It gets dark by 6pm now. There is a distinct blusteriness about the wind. I have spent the day slogging through research and essays. I have completed my paper explaining what I've learned in Managing Mergers and Acquisitions, and am 1/5 of the way through the 2500 word analysis of my leadership skills. I am wearing yoga pants, wool socks and felt slippers, a black t-shirt and a variegated green-black wool jumper (that's a sweater to you yanks,) as it is a bit chilly in the house, even with the heat on. Therefore, I've decided to have a sidecar to warm me up a bit. It's the perfect elixer to defrost from a can feel it seeping into your bones, relaxing the tension and radiating warmth. It also conjures up a romantic expat exoticness , with a rich Parisian history that reads like a scene from classic movie, as described by Drinkboy : "Recently, while talking with Colin Fields, t